While I love the idea of turning a cereal box into a guitar and making a race car out of a toilet paper roll, sometimes the best kids projects are the simplest ones. To that end, I checked in with real LA moms to find out which at-home ideas and activities actually worked for them—plus I’m revealing my own biggest #MomWin. Read on for all the sanity-saving tips.

At the Carwash

After attempting DIY spin art with a salad spinner (5 minutes of entertainment, 25 minutes of cleanup) and various other art projects involving spray starch, coffee filters and more, I took a break from forcing crafting on my 3 year old. Ultimately, the activity that kept him occupied the longest was a 'car wash.' Just a bucket of soapy water, some rags, a few dirty outdoor trucks and a towel for drying.

photo: Bekki Herzon

Chalk It Up

With a little painters tape, you can create graphic chalk art on the driveway, a wall or fence, like mom Bekki Herzon. The activity kept her two kids, ages 5 and 7, busy for more than an hour!

Soup's On

This "nature soup" project is the "gift that keeps giving," according to Heather Taylor, founder of linen shop Heather Taylor Home. The idea comes from Meri Cherry. Simply gather sticks, petals, leaves and more on a walk or in your backyard. Put in a pot, add water (colored for more fun), and stir. 

photo: Julia R.

Paint the Town

This might be the ultimate simple-but-oh-so-entertaining activity: "My daughter spent almost an hour 'painting' our fence and everything in the backyard today with water!" says mom Julia R.

Paint the Toys

"Today’s quarantine activity. Painted some toys with washable paint and then transferred everything to the bath to wash everything off," writes Emily V. in her Instagram post. The whole thing took over an hour and involved a lot of independent play, so score.

photo: Ellen Grinberg

Stick to It

"Here’s an idea I came up with that lasted for 45 minutes using stickers from Melissa and Doug," says mom Ellen Gringberg, who did this activity with her three year old. "Do a quick and simple drawing of the sea, a farm, etc., then have kids put the stickers in the right setting." 

photo: Zoe DiStefano

Slicing & Dicing

"I got my daughter toddler knives that protect from cutting fingers off," says mom Zoe DiStefano. "She's obsessed with cutting veggies and helping me with dinner. Which is great because not only does it keep her busy so I can cook, but it gets her excited to eat her veggies!" 

photo: Lisa Perilstein

Go Green

"We made a huge calendar and are having theme days," mom Lisa Perilstein tells us of the routine she's found most helpful. "For example, we have a rainbow day, a Philadelphia Eagles day, a Frozen Or Daniel Tiger Day. We add activities based on the themes (like we made green play dough on green day)." Your day, solved. 

Blast Off!

Amanda Schechter, creator of the maternity collection Formerly Yan, shared this DIY rocket ship, perfect for older kids and aspiring astronauts. "We produced a 🚀 100% handmade of sustainable materials (used plastic water bottle, reusable wine cork, and used printer paper) powered by organic ingredients (1/4c vinegar and 1tbs baking soda)," she shared in her Instragram post. And we have lift off! (Note: This project definitely requires parental supervision, but you'll be as wowed by it as your kids.)

–Shannan Rouss

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